We’ve all heard the run of the mill career advice. Dress for the job you want. Show up early. Stay late. Be tenacious and work harder than everyone else at the office. Find a mentor. Network, network, network.
It’s not that this sort of advice is bad. It’s still relevant and important to keep in mind. But here’s the thing. The world of business has always been ever-evolving, but now it’s evolving at an exponentially faster pace. Decades ago, workers were able to home in on a skill or profession, and master that skill over the course of years and years. This concept is outdated.
Keeping up with the rapid evolution of technology in the workplace is difficult enough. Throw in the goal of setting yourself apart from the rest of the pack, and you might start to feel like you’re chasing your tail. What gives? Adaptation. Workers must learn to adapt to the rapid change of pace in business technology and evolve with that pace.
These days, the most valuable of skills may not be taught in the classroom. Instead, being open to change and not resisting the flow could elevate your career path more than just showing up early and leaving late. Here are the eight skills every worker really needs to build a successful career.
1. Bear hug the passion for lifelong learning
But really, bear hug it. There is beauty in being open to lifelong learning in both your personal and professional life. When it comes to your career, you must be open to learning more. As author of Thank You for Being Late and New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman says, “When you have an accelerated pace of change, the single most competitive advantage is to be a lifelong learner.”
Take advantage of your employer’s continuing education fund. Find relevant classes or workshops that will enable and empower your passion for lifelong learning.
2. Master the art of communication
In a world where everything is moving at an insanely quick pace, communication is more valuable than ever. Because we’ve become so reliant on email and text message, proper verbal face-to-face or phone communication isn’t easy for everyone. Realize that the words you speak have power. Articulating yourself is important, but there are two sides of communication — speaking and listening. Learning to listen is just as important as communicating your message.
3. Take a pause to find your creativity
Do you ever feel like you just need to step away from a project for a while? That’s a good thing. Pause. Take a break. And revisit. Allowing your creativity to blossom through hitting the pause button is a valuable skill. Sometimes, simply walking through the park, meditating, or stretching is the outlet you need. Hitting pause every now and then will allow you to approach a project from a different (and usually better) angle.
4. Create a sustainable workflow
Everyone has a workflow of sorts. The question at hand — is your workflow sustainable and productive? Workers have been known to spend an uncanny amount of time trying to organize themselves and get their ducks in a row. Get out of that habit. If you’re spending a ridiculous amount of time shuffling through emails all day, you’re probably a person who would benefit from creating a more sustainable workflow.
Tim Ferris, author of The 4-Hour Work Week, suggests checking emails at set times every day. This method allows for increased productivity on projects that would otherwise be interrupted by incessant email alerts. Setting an auto-responder to inform your colleagues of your new method probably wouldn’t hurt. Furthermore, use your calendar to stay abreast of all the deadlines and goals you’ve set for the week.
5. Check your ego at the door
One steadfast way to annihilate your career growth? Your ego. Everyone has an ego. It’s the natural sense of self-esteem and self-importance. The problem lies in not keeping that ego in check. A know-it-all, arrogant, entitled attitude stems from a person’s ego, and it’s ugly. Just because you may have a higher level of education or more experience in the field does not give you the green light to be a jerk.
An out-of-hand ego will typically take you right out of the running for that promotion you think you deserve. So how does a person keep their ego in check? For starters, realize that you are merely a small speck in comparison to the universe. Everyone is absolutely just as important as you think you are. Be humble.
6. Learn how to fail
Believe it or not, failure is a beautiful thing. From failure comes learning and growth. The key is to fail upward. Look at failure as the opportunity to improve. It may sound ridiculous, but it’s true. For many successful business people, failing is merely a means to an end. That end being a better solution, a better idea, and a better awareness of what does and does not work. Use your failures as leverage to make something better.
7. Stay current
The importance of staying current has never been more apparent than it is now. The ramifications of being out of the loop could cost you the promotion you’ve been vying for. Beyond the promotion, it’s important to know what the heck is going on in the world. We are more interdependent and interconnected than ever in the world of business, and being privy to what’s happening on a global level will benefit you tremendously. Stay in the loop and up-to-date on new technologies and relevant news.
8. Always be open to change
Embracing the evolution and change in the workplace is crucial to being identified as an asset. It’s common for workplace change to not be well-received. Once a worker becomes accustomed to the way things operate, they may find it annoying to change it up. You see, embracing the change demonstrates your flexibility as an employee. Just make sure to keep a positive attitude through it all. You’ll benefit greatly when it comes time for promotions.